The Direct Provision Report: Recommendations on Improving the Quality of Life for Protection Seekers

DP ReportYou can find my preliminary analysis of the McMahon Report on the Protection Process and Direct Provision System here.

You can access the McMahon Report here.

The Working Group have made a number of recommendations as regards improving the quality of life of those in the protection process. These recommendations include, improved financial supports, education and training, health care, further assistance to vulnerable protection seekers and supports to enable person’s transition out of direct provision accommodation.[1]

  1. Unqualified recommendations

Increase rate of direct provision allowance: The working group has recommended an increase in direct provision allowance (DPA) for adults and children. It is recommended that the adult rate to increase to €38.74 and child rate to €29.80 (qualifying child allowance under Supplementary Welfare Allowance).[2] There is an additional recommendation for the Department of Social Protection to reinstate Community Welfare Service officials in direct provision centres[3] and strive for consistency in administration of Emergency Needs Payments.[4]

 

  1. Qualified Recommendations

The Right to Work: Once the single procedure is “operating efficiently”,[5] provision for access to the labour market for a protection applicant, if the first instance protection decision is not provided within 9 months, and the applicant has been cooperating with status determination bodies.[6] The right to work should continue until the end of the protection determination process.[7] Where an applicant does succeed in entering employment, she should make a contribution to her accommodation and food within direct provision, if the right to work is provided and exercised.[8]

Access to Education: For school-going children, access to a homework club (on school grounds or in the direct provision centre) is necessary.[9] There are 60 students aged 15-18 who are currently in direct provision and will sit their leaving cert in 3-4 years time.[10] 100 young people obtained their leaving certificate in the last 5 years and live in DP centres.[11] 21 students sat the Leaving Certificate in 2014. 22 students were scheduled to sit their leaving cert in 2015.[12] For adults (new arrivals, the McMahon Report recommends access to English language education within one month.[13] For those 6 months + in the direct provision system, information on other potential courses open to them should be made available.[14] Universities and colleges should consider applying EU/EEA rates to those in the protection process or leave to remain stage for five years or more.[15] In courses above NFQ Level 4, those in the system for two years or more should be eligible to apply but subject to same conditions as others (i.e. if there is a requirement to be unemployed, and on the “live register”, this would apply to protection seekers).[16] The McMahon Report recognised that this does not impact in any way on those currently in the system.[17] No rationale is provided for the reason as to why it will not apply to current applicants.

 

Healthcare supports: The McMahon Report welcomed the HSE initiative to waive prescription charges, and calls for it to be implemented as soon as possible.[18] A number of health promotion initiatives and information leaflets on health services should be made available to protection seekers.[19]

 

Support for Vulnerable Protection Seekers, including LGBT Protection Seekers: Organisations providing services to protection applicants “should consider training staff in LGBT issues”.[20] The McMahon Report also recommends that representatives of Department of Social Protection should exercise discretion in administering Emergency Needs Payments to “support LGBT people in the system to access appropriate supports and services”.[21] The McMahon Report also recommends that information leaflets to highlight LGBT issues “displayed prominently”, along with RIA Safety Statement highlighting LGBT issues. [22]

 

Supports for Separated Children: All separated children over 16 should have an aftercare plan.[23] Currently, the HSE provide aftercare support to 82 separated children who have reached 18 years.[24] “As far as practicable and subject to their wishes”, separated children moving into direct provision should be accommodated in a direct provision centre near to residential placement or previous foster carers.[25] Training and other supports should be provided to foster carers to assist a young person’s transition to direct provision.[26] The McMahon Report also recommends that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs “should convene” a “stakeholder group” to consider “optimum supports” for separated children, including integration into Irish society.[27]

Linkages with Local Communities: The Government to “give consideration” to including protection applicants in integration strategy and to make funding available for local integration strategies. Consideration to be given to set up “Friends of the Centre” groups[28] and building community linkages. This also includes a suggestion to open up direct provision centres for an “Open Day”.[29]

 

  1. Requests for Reviews & Training

The McMahon Report “strongly urges” that a review occur as regards pregnancy and family planning issues, including crisis pregnancy issues that arise.[30] The review should explore issues related to the right to travel documents, financial assistance, confidentiality etc.[31]

 

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission should consider including in their Strategic Plan the inclusion of education and training on equality and diversity issues for public bodies engaged in the provision of supports to persons in the direct provision system.[32]

[1] In this review, I will not be engaging in an analysis of the recommendations on transitioning out of direct provision, see McMahon Report, Ch. 5.

[2] McMahon Report, para. 51, 5.27 and 5.30 Bullet Point 1.

[3] McMahon Report, para 5.7, 5.19, 5.29 and 5.30 Bullet Point 2.

[4] McMahon Report, para. 5.30, Bullet Point 3.

[5] McMahon Report, para. 53, para. 5.49, Bullet Point 1.

[6] Ibid.

[7] McMahon Report, para. 5.49, Bullet Point 2.

[8] McMahon Report, para. 5.49, Bullet Point 3.

[9] McMahon Report, para. 4.67. The Report notes that “just over half of the family centers” operate homework clubs, see para. 5.61.

[10] McMahon Report, para. 5.65, Bullet Point 1.

[11] McMahon Report, para. 5.65, Bullet Point 2.

[12] McMahon Report, para. 5.65, Bullet Point 3.

[13] McMahon Report, para. 5.72.

[14] McMahon Report, para. 5.74.

[15] McMahon Report, para. 5.76 and 5.82.

[16] McMahon Report, para. 5.79.

[17] Ibid.

[18] McMahon Report, para. 5.100.

[19] Ibid.

[20] McMahon Report, para. 5.113.

[21] McMahon Report, para. 5.113, Bullet Point 2.

[22] McMahon Report, para. 5.100, Bullet Point 6.

[23] McMahon Report, para. 5.121.

[24] McMahon Report, para. 5.122.

[25] McMahon Report, para. 5.134, Bullet Point 3.

[26] McMahon Report, para. 5.134, Bullet Point 3.

[27] McMahon Report, para. 5.134, Bullet Point 4.

[28] McMahon Report, para. 5.146 and para. 5.152, Bullet Point 3.

[29] McMahon Report, para. 5.148.

[30] McMahon Report, para. 5.100, Bullet Point 3.

[31] Ibid.

[32] McMahon Report, para. 5.175, Bullet Point 3. The Sub-Group on supports to protection applicants noted “that the Commission [IHREC] has a substantial budget (€6.8 million in 2015) that could be drawn on to good effect”. This was removed from the final version of the report (on file with author).

The Direct Provision Report: Recommendations on Improving the Quality of Life for Protection Seekers

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